We went around the world with 8kg for me (Anh) and 16kg for JB. On the way, we gave up a lot of things to finish at 7-8kg for me, and 13kg for JB. How to travel light and not have back pain? Here are our tips!
The backpack is so important
The backpack decides everything. A quality backpack, with a reasonable capacity, here is the main key to travel light.
Because psychologically, a half-empty bag = you want to fill it. So, a small bag = little stuff.
If I opted for a 26L, JB opted for a 65L.
If possible, avoid Decathlon bags, which are inexpensive but not very ergonomic. Prefer to pay a little bit more for brands known and appreciated by frequent travelers such as Osprey, Deuter, Gregory etc.
The small backpack has its importance
Don’t underestimate the importance of the small backpack you take with you every day to visit.
It happens, very frequently, that one wants to put this small backpack in the big backpack, to be more free of his movements.
Or, on the contrary, whether you want to spend 1 or 2 days in a city just next door, leaving the big backpack at the hostel. The small backpack must be big enough (I speak about the volume), robust, but also comfortable to carry, and easy to store if needed. For this, the small Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack Backpack Poppy Orange (10L) that I’ve been using since the beginning of the world tour is unbeatable. Folded, it isn’t bigger than an apple.
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Half Cube type storage pockets allow you to quickly find your things, but also to compress your clothes a little.
Less volume => you leave with a smaller backpack => you are less tempted to add unnecessary stuff.
Indispensable! A pouch close to the body
Most of the time, we don’t even have a small backpack as a matter of fact. We walk hands free in the street and stop somewhere to eat and drink. To store our papers, money and phone, we carry a very small and discreet Eagle Creek pouch (which can even be hidden under a vest). We have tested other models of the same brand but this is the one we like the most (be careful! it’s the old model you need!!). Moreover, it is anti-RFID.
Clothes that don’t stink ^_^
Merino wool is the ideal material for frequent travelers. It can be worn in all seasons (if in summer too). You can wear merino wool clothes several days in a row without it smells bad. Wearing the same garment several days in a row = less laundry = less clothes to take.
Then, if you are so horrified to wear the same garment several days in a row, merino wool dries very fast (you can wash it in the evening and it will be dry in the morning). I wrote an article here about the two brands of merino wool I use.
Lightweight, multi-purpose clothing and dressing in layers
We have experienced the 4 seasons during our world tour and must carry multi-purpose clothing that can adapt to anything (rain, cold, wind, heatwave…). So we applied the hikers’ multi-layer principle: many layers, but each layer isn’t very bulky and very light. In the end, it keeps us warm and a lot of clothes can be used both in summer and winter, or used as pyjamas 😀
We also like very much the clothes from Uniqlo which are very very light (Uniqlo comforter, Uniqlo parka). The only disadvantage of these clothes is that they must be hand washed (otherwise their anti-water repellent side may be less effective). But they also dry super fast.
We also have multi-purpose clothing such as hiking pants that can also be transformed into shorts.
Another trick is to visit all the cold countries at once. Then send a package back to France with all your warm clothes, to finish with only summer clothes for the rest of the trip. This is relevant especially if you plan to visit South America and Oceania first and end up in Asia.
A micro-fiber towel
You will not necessarily be given a towel in the hostels. Leave with a featherweight microfiber towel that dries very quickly. It’s a bit unpleasant to use at first but you get used to it very quickly.
Few computer gadgets
We consider it essential to travel with a computer: there are a lot of bus/plane reservation sites that aren’t mobile/tablet compatible, we need to transfer and store our photos on a computer, in addition to keeping our blog. I have a Lenovo X1 Carbon (1.15kg, detailed review)
But I know that for many people, one tablet would have been enough. Here’s our tip for transferring photos from an SD card to the iPad
We decided to take pictures only with our smartphones. Not only does it fit in our small pockets, but we are less tempted to take pictures by the hundreds and enjoy the scenery much more. The photos are synchronized in Wifi with Google Photos and we delete them as we go.
If you want to travel with a camera, you should know that the Sony RX100 III (detailed review here) is very appreciated by travelers (for its small size, image quality and battery).
Three pairs of shoes max
- A pair of trail shoes (doesn’t need to be gore-tex)
- A pair of water-resistant walking sandals
- A pair of flip-flops (to walk around the room, at the hostel)
Test your stuff before you go! The ideal would be to leave for 2 weeks of travel with a large part of the stuff you plan to take with you on a world tour. This way, you will see if the weight is right for you, if the clothes fit you, if the shoes are good etc.
Apart from very specific items (backpacks, merino wool clothing, Swiss Army knife), everything is abroad for a ridiculously low price, it is better to leave with little and complete as you go along. Otherwise, you can simply give your objects away (by leaving them in the hotel room with a little note, or in a plastic bag on the sidewalk with a little note).
Have a good trip!